Meet the 2015-2016 ESC Region 19 Head Start Scholarship Recipients
Education Service Center Region 19, Head Start Scholarship recipients are selected by the Head Start Policy Council Committee. The scholarship committee raises funds to help High School students who began their education with Head Start and are now graduating seniors. This year’s recipients each received $2000 towards their college fees. The scholarship committee was established in 1993 and issued its first award in 2005. Since then the committee has issued over $20,000 in awards.
Abygale Gonzales is a sophomore at the University of Texas at El Paso at El Paso and a 2015-2016 Head Start Scholarship recipient. The 19 year old mathematics major and former Head Start student says the news of the reward couldn’t have come at a better time, “I couldn’t believe it when I heard that I was awarded,” said Gonzales. “But at the time, I was struggling to find a way to pay for my books and the scholarship solved that problem for me.”
Gonzales graduated from Isaac Camacho Head Start in 2002 where her mother, Pilar Ayala – a current nutrition staff member at John R Vasquez Head Start, also worked as a cook. “Having my mother so close and involved gave me confidence,” said Gonzales, recalling her days at Head Start. “I had speech problems and didn’t speak English which was something my mother really wanted for us to learn. By the time I finished Head Start I was speaking English and communicating better.”
Gonzales went on to graduate from Chapin High school under a duel credit program which allowed her to enter college as a sophomore. She credits much of her success to her mother and her early foundation at Head Start. “My mother is such an inspiration to me and I inherited her determination. She told us the only way to success was to get an education and she led by example, bettering herself so that we could have more opportunities in life,” Gonzales said. “Head Start reinforced that enthusiasm for learning and respect for others.”
Gonzales’s future plans are to get her PhD and become a Professor of Mathematics where she can inspire and challenge other students to appreciate math.
Gonzales was a guest of Honor Speaker at the 2016 Region 19 Head Start Parent Conference.
Eighteen year old Joseph Marrufo is one of two students awarded the 2015-2016 Head Start parent policy council college Scholarship.
Marrufo got a strong start in life thanks to his close relationship with his family. “My parents didn’t come from a wealth,” said Marrufo. ‘My dad grew up on a farm with 11 siblings and my mother became pregnant at 16, but they both graduated and have successful careers today. They always told us that no matter how you began or what your background, you can always do better for yourself.”
A graduate of Ysleta Head Start, Marrufo recalls his years in the pre-k program, “Head Start is where I learned to speak Spanish. I didn’t speak Spanish at all but because Head Start was a duel language program, pretty soon I was able to understand and communicate fluently with my bilingual grandmother in her preferred language.”
Marrufo , also a talented artist, has won many awards and recognitions for his expressive paintings and artwork. “There’s a lot of meaning in everything I create,” said Marrufo. “Every detail tells a story of something very significant and personal to me.”
Marrufo graduated from Valle Verde Early College High School where he was an active leader in several clubs and academic groups. He is currently a sophomore and Computer Science Major at the University of Texas at El Paso where he eventually hopes to translate his love for art and computers into a successful career as a Video Game designer.
“Honestly if I hadn’t gone to Head Start I don’t think I would have the same drive to embrace academic challenges,” said Marrufo . “If more parents start their kids off early in education they’ll develop a pattern of learning, and have the attitude of - why not learn more? when presented with new opportunities.”
Marrufo was a Guest of Honor speaker at the 2016 Region 19 Head Start Parent Conference.